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Stephen Birdsall
Office: Saunders 223
work(919) 962-3918 (phone)
Social, landscapes & values, North America


My research interests revolve around the role place plays in personal and cultural decisions. I am most interested in how place and landscape are participants in peope’s lives and the values they hold. How do places come to be important to people? What are the implications when interpretations of what makes a particular place or type of place important are markedly different among people who value the same place? How are individuals and groups whose values are embedded in place affected by exogenous changes?

I have been exploring the connection between belief and action and how this connection is illustrated by reactions to and formation of places as both locale and identifier. I am currently working on several projects dealing with place preservation, especially natural and memorial landscapes and the intersections between the two.

Selected Recent Publications

2005. Regional Landscapes of the United States and Canada, 6th edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 398pp. (with Eugene Palka, Jon Malinowski and Margo Price)

2004. Overcoming Scale When Teaching About the World’s Complexity. Journal of Geography, forthcoming.

2003. Maxims to Help Understand the World: Simple Rules to Guide Learning about Geographic Complexity. Journal of Science Education and Technology 12(2): 97-104.

2003. Learning to See Landscape Through a Flexible Lens. Journal of Geography 102(1): 29-34.

2001. Tobacco farmers and landscape change in North Carolina’s Old Belt region. Southeastern Geographer 41(1): 65-73.

1997. Social value and the scholarly community: Conversations with History and Anthropology. Occasional Publications of the Association of American Geographers. Washington, DC: Association of American Geographers, 19pp. (with William E. Leuchtenburg, and James L. Peacock)

1996. Regard, Respect, and Responsibility: Sketches for a moral geography of the everyday, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 86: 619-629. 


After returning to teaching in 1997 following almost 15 years as Dean or senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, I have taught an occasional graduate seminar and basic undergraduate courses in World Regional Geography, North American Landscapes, Cultural Landscapes, as well as an honors seminar on Nature and Preservation, and most recently an undergraduate seminar on Landscapes of Remembrance.


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